Revving Up

* Blogs–We have mentioned the blog as a valuable piece of marketing in the past, but SEO is one of the biggest reasons blogs work so well. Many search engines, including Google, love regular blog posts. If you have a blog component on your camp Web site (something fairly easy to set up), you can add new content on a daily basis, with little effort. And the search engines love fresh content, as mentioned before. You can set up separate blogs from the camp director, from the counselors, even from the campers themselves, all of which will feed the search engines what they want–clean, fresh, relevant content, on a regular basis.

If you go with an off-site blog, like Google’s Blogger program, you can include links to your camp’s main Web site. And links are very important to your SEO.

* Article marketing–Another way to build up links to your camp’s site is with article marketing. What is article marketing? Well, as we all know, content is king on the Web. There are sites online, such as EzineArticles.com, that specialize as a clearing house for articles on all kinds of subjects, that people can then upload to their site or newsletter or blog feed, and distribute to others. When you write an article for one of these distribution sites (they accept articles on dozens of different topics), you include a signature line at the end with your name, the name of your camp and camp Web site, providing a link to your site. The more articles you write, the more links. And when one of your articles is picked up by a blog or newsletter, your link is included with that as well. It is also a great way to establish you and your camp as the experts in the world of summer camps.

* Social Web sites–You can have your very own presence on MySpace.com, and let everyone know about your camp through these popular Web phenomena. MySpace is essentially a site for younger people, so I suggest asking one of your regular counselors to keep a MySpace page about your camp. And update it regularly. This is a great way to reach a younger audience, and you can build in links to your camp’s Web site from your page.

Squidoo.com is also a networking site, but it is designed for businesses and other entities that want to publicize themselves, and build links to their Web sites. On Squidoo, you can build a “lens,” which is essentially a mini-site for your camp. You can include any information you think is relevant for your camp.

* Online press releases–Every time your camp does something of note–whether you’ve installed a new water feature or are introducing computer science into your camp’s program–send out an electronic press release. These releases can travel the Web quickly, and can be picked up by a variety of different sources, all increasing links to your camp’s site, as well as providing valuable publicity for your camp.

So, there you have it–SEO marketing in a nutshell. SEO does not have to be complicated or confusing. You don’t really need to be a Web guru or a computer expert to make SEO work for you. While there is no way to determine exactly how effective this process will be to your site, if you implement these steps incrementally over a year, you are bound to see some improvements to how your Web site is perceived by the search engines.

Tim Diering is the vice president of marketing at Summer Camp Design, a full-service marketing and design firm dedicated to creating cost-effective marketing and design solutions for summer camps. He can be reached at (800) 957-7175, via e-mail at tim@summercampdesign.com or visit

www.summercampdesign.com.

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  5. Ready, Aim, Fire!

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